How Do Corticosteroids Work?

Reviewed on 1/10/2022

HOW DO CORTICOSTEROIDS WORK?

Corticosteroids also known as “steroids” are a class of drugs that are synthetic analogs of steroid hormones which are naturally produced by the outer portion of the adrenal glands (two small glands located on top of the kidney) known as the cortex. Corticosteroids are anti-inflammatory medicines that work by reducing the activity of the immune system and are used for a wide range of conditions including rheumatologic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus or vasculitis (inflammation of the blood vessels), asthma, allergies, and skin conditions (insect bites, poison oak/ivy, eczemadermatitis, allergies, rashitching of the outer female genitals, anal itching). 

They are involved in a wide range of physiological processes, including stress response, immune response, and regulation of inflammation, carbohydrate metabolism, protein catabolism, blood electrolyte levels, and behavior. 

Corticosteroids are classified as either:

Corticosteroids are available in different forms including:

  • Tablets (oral steroids)
  • Injections–which can be administered into blood vessels, joints, or muscles
  • Inhalers–mouth or nasal sprays
  • Lotions, gels, or creams (topical steroids)

Corticosteroids work in the following ways:

  • Mimic the effects of naturally occurring hormones such as "cortisol."Decrease inflammation (a process in which the body's white blood cells and chemicals protect against infection and foreign substances such as bacteria and viruses) and reduce the activity of the immune system. 
  • Decrease the production of chemicals that cause inflammation, thus reducing swelling, heat, redness, and pain.
  • Decrease the response of the immune system to various diseases to reduce symptoms such as swelling and allergic-type reactions.
  • Help control the amount of sodium and fluids in the body, thus keeping the blood pressure under control.
  • In addition, they decrease the amount of sodium that is excreted in the urine.
  • When applied topically, they work by activating natural substances in the skin to reduce swelling, redness, and itching.

QUESTION

Lupus is an infection. See Answer

HOW ARE CORTICOSTEROIDS USED?

Corticosteroids are used in conditions such as:

WHAT ARE SIDE EFFECTS OF CORTICOSTEROIDS?

Some of the common side effects include:

Other rare side effects include:

Information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible side effects, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. Check with your doctor or pharmacist to make sure these drugs do not cause any harm when you take them along with other medicines. Never stop taking your medication and never change your dose or frequency without consulting your doctor.

WHAT ARE NAMES OF CORTICOSTEROIDS?

Generic and brand names of corticosteroids include:

IMAGES

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References
https://reference.medscape.com/drugs/corticosteroids

https://www.medicinenet.com/corticosteroids- oral/article.htm#what_are_corticosteroids_what_is_the_mechanism_of_action_how_do_they_work https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-6802/fludrocortisone-oral/details

https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682549.html

https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-6470/methylprednisolone-oral/details

https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682795.html

https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-10402-859/hydrocortisone-topical/hydrocortisone-topical/details

https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682793.html

https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-1027-5021/dexamethasone-oral/dexamethasone-oral/details

https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-6007-9383/prednisone-oral/prednisone-oral/details

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